Roberto Donna announced this weekend that construction will begin in about three weeks on a new incarnation of his formal Italian dining room, Galileo, and its even-more-upscale spinoff Laboratorio del Galileo. At the St. Michaels Food and Wine Festival, the chef schmoozed and joked with the crowd during a cooking demonstration while sharing his plans to reopen the venerable restaurants in the former Butterfield 9 space (600 14th St., NW) by the end of the summer.
Galileo closed in late 2006 for a building renovation but never reopened in its 21st Street, Northwest, location. Bebo, Donna’s more casual Crystal City trattoria, shuttered earlier this month. If Donna’s performance at the festival this weekend is any indication, he still has the stuff diners (and Iron Chef America judges) first fell in love with. For a wine dinner held at the Inn at Perry Cabin in conjunction with the festival, he kicked things off with hand-cut pasta ribbons with morels, speck, and a knockout sauce. Despite being followed by some very successful dishes from other big-name Washington chefs—including Todd Gray of Equinox and Robert Wiedmaier of Marcel’s, Brasserie Beck, and Brabo—his creation was the clear favorite at our table.